September 19, 2023

Guyana sees hemp’s potential to bolster struggling agricultural sector

Guyana could plant its first legal hemp crops this spring as the government has underlined its commitment to developing the industry and the finalization of a regulatory framework is expected soon.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo reiterated the government’s intention to facilitate planting and production during a recent meeting with industry representatives, noting that legislation for a “highly regulated sector” is on the way. completion.

Interest is high.

“I see everyone representing the hemp industry now and we’ve had a flood of people coming up to us,” the vice president said at a recent press conference in Georgetown.

Replacement for rice, sugarcane

Verman Bedessee, president of US-based Guyana Hemp Industries (GHI), who led a recent delegation that met with Jagdeo earlier this year, said the government sees hemp production as a way to shore up the sector. agriculture, which has experienced declines in key sectors. like rice and sugar cane – a staple crop in Guyana that has collapsed by more than 50% in recent years.

“There are 30,000 to 50,000 farmers out of work and the land is ready to be replaced with hemp because the workers are there,” Bedessee said. “Once production is scaled up, the export potential is vast, as Guyana is an agricultural nation and can produce raw products for export in the early stages.”

Land has been cleared and farmers and equipment are ready to expand once a legal and regulatory framework is formally established, according to GHI, which is in talks to administer the program and provide seeds and equipment to kick-start the crop. cultivation and production. Licenses for cultivation, processing, export and domestic sales of hemp are provided.

First locations identified

Jagdeo said the planting will start at two locations, one at Kuru Kururu near Silica City, a new settlement planned by the government to relieve overcrowding in Georgetown, the country’s capital; and one at Mara, a former sugarcane plantation located in the East Berbice-Corentyne region.

The government said Operation Kuru Kururu aims to serve as a prototype for the development of hemp supply chains in each of Guyana’s ten administrative regions. “This area was chosen because it has never been touched; it’s organic,” said Michael Kirton, president of GHI. “We hope that the Kurur Kururu project will become an example for people in other communities.”

Hemp supporters in Guyana see the economic benefits of not only growing and processing hemp, but have noted potential trade in marketing, banking, insurance, and retail. Supporters cited studies they say show that planting 100,000 hectares (~250,000 acres) could create 40,000 to 50,000 sustainable jobs, bringing economic development through carbon credits and from a large range of productions of hemp seeds and stalks.